Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Noah Harald & Speak Now - Winder, GA, Micro-budget Filmmaking Part IV

The final update from filmmaker Noah Harald, who toured his film Speak Now on the Southern Circuit:

As I screen our film 'Speak Now' at the next four venues in the Southern Circuit I'm going to try something interesting and share my thoughts and advice about making a micro-budget improv film as well as my travels here in the South. Fourth and final screening- Winder, GA.

I had a few days off and spent them on Lake Oconee in GA for a few days and it was beautiful bliss. Got to fish under an incredible sunset and feel amazingly lucky to be alive and in the south. 'Speak Now' screened last night at the Winder Cultural Arts Center, and it was a great screening. Pretty robust turnout and a very diverse crowd. People enjoyed the film and had a ton of questions. Don Wildsmith ran the Q&A, and though he was a self-professed 'tech' he had great questions. It was a pleasure to chat with everyone about the film. After the screening, the cultural arts center had a reception and I got to meet and speak with some of the crowd. Awesome experience. The thing that has struck me most about screening the film in the south is that I think I had a preconception about how it would land with audiences. I thought that the lesbians and the closeted gay character and the movie about young people and failed marriages wouldn't ring as true as it did with intellectual film festival audiences and our friends in New York and LA. I was proven completely wrong. From young college age kids to retirees everyone appreciated and engaged with the film. It was eye-opening for me and a total re-education of my own beliefs about people in the south. I'm so appreciative it was an experience I got to have.




Making a micro-budget film, Part IV: Releasing your film into the wild
This is the hardest part. On many levels. One, you have to let people see your film, judge it as a film and watch it without disclaimers or cautions. Two, there are so many films being made now that finding an audience is harder than ever. The good news is the audience for indie films has never been hungrier and there have never been easier ways to reach them. I'm gonna outline the important things to think about and how we tackled (or failed to tackle) those issues- feel free to do your own research on how to tackle them yourself but know that I'm giving you a roadmap of obstacles.

1. Submit to and attend film festivals. Budget yourself several thousand dollars for this. Festival fees range from 25-150 bucks depending on the festival and the sheer numbers of films being submitted means your micro-budget indie with non name actors really has to stick out. Sometimes it will be lost in the crowd, sometimes it will be under-appreciated but eventually it will find it's home. We were rejected from at least a dozen smaller film festivals before we were accepted by the very prestigious Austin Film Festival, where we premiered and ultimately took home the Write/Rec Audience Award. If we had given up after the rejection of the smaller ones, we would never have gone on to play Austin, Atlanta and the many others culminating with the Southern Filmmakers Tour. Be persistent, have a great hook and count your lucky stars- you will find the right home.

2. Release the film! Sounds easy enough, right. RIGHT! In the best of all worlds a distributor will come to you at your Sundance premiere and buy the worldwide rights for a ton of money. But in the likely chance that this doesn't happen, you can release the film yourself. We aggregated with a company called Quiver, which for a small fee puts in the legwork and applications to get your film on digital platforms. We chose to go with iTunes and GooglePlay, and our film is currently available there. We also put the film on VHX, which is a newer on demand platform that you can name your price as well as connect with the audience of buyers. It's also a great way to fulfill digital downloads for your crowdfunding backers. If you've been following along and haven't seen our film, you can go to VHX and purchase the deluxe edition now for only 4.99 with the code SOUTHARTS at https://speaknow.vhx.tv/buy/speak-now-deluxe-edition

3. Marketing. We are still trying to figure this out. The most important thing is to keep interacting with your fans. Twitter and Facebook are great tools for this, local press and ads may work, though we won't know what kind of conversion we can get until after a few months of working it. Make sure when you raise money you set money aside for this. No matter what you've spent on the film, you must spend money here if you want to reach an audience beyond your facebook friends. It's not an exact science, and there's so much research you can do and get lost in, but plan for this step.

4. Enjoy the ride. You made a film. You created a piece of art and now you're part of the conversation. What a beautiful thing. Thankfully there are people who crave the kind of art being created outside of the normal channels and no matter what happens, you made a film. Thanks for following along, and thank you so much to South Arts for creating this opportunity and having an agenda to spread the cinematic arts through the south. Cheers everyone.